Fox Butterfield, Is That You?

The title—and pretty much everything else in this post—courtesy of James Taranto, Best of the Web Today.

BTW, if you’re not familiar with Fox Butterfield, he’s a New York Times reporter (former?) whose laughable obtuseness was captured in 2004 by Taranto’s phrase “The Butterfield Effect”

“The Butterfield Effect” is named in honor of ace New York Times crime reporter Fox Butterfield, the intrepid analyst responsible for such brilliantly headlined stories as “More Inmates, Despite Drop In Crime,” and “Number in Prison Grows Despite Crime Reduction,” not to mention the poetic 1997 header, “Crime Keeps on Falling, but Prisons Keep on Filling.”

Mr. Butterfield is truly perplexed at what he calls the “paradox” of more criminals in prison coinciding with less crime in neighborhoods. An observation that might appear obvious to an 8th grader (crooks + jail = fewer crimes) is simply beyond his grasp. Butterfield of the Times is the poster boy for the greatest conundrum facing the American Left today: How do you explain to people who just don’t get it that the problem is they just don’t get it?

Preamble concluded, here’s The Butterfield Effect in action in another field in another state, in another time—taxes, California, now:


California State Controller John Chiang has announced that total state revenue for the month of November 2012 fell $806.8 million, or 10.8%, below budget.

Democrats thought they could hammer “the rich” by convincing voters to pass Proposition 30 to create the highest state income tax in the nation. But it now appears that high income earners have already “voted with their feet” by moving themselves and their businesses out of state, resulting in over $1 billion shortfall in corporate and income taxes last month and the beginning of a new financial crisis.

Passage of Proposition 30 set off euphoria and expectations of higher spending for public employees. The California Teachers’ Association (CTA) trumpeted: “California students and working families won a clear victory today as voters clearly demonstrated their willingness to invest in our public schools and colleges and also rejected a deceptive ballot measure aimed at silencing educators, other workers and their unions.”

State bureaucrats immediately ramped up deficit spending far beyond the state’s $6 billion annual tax increase, with the Departments of Health Services and Developmental Services increasing this month’s spending by over $1 billion versus last year.

It’s really quite funny…but I don’t see you laughing. Lighten up!

This part ought to get a snort out of you:

During the election campaign, Governor Jerry Brown and his pro-tax coalition had the California Board of Equalization request a report from the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, which claimed to have looked at state tax records and found no risk of the super-rich leaving.

Following the tax increase victory, Reuters published an article titled “Super-rich flight from California? Not so fast.” Authors Jim Christie and Peter Henderson attempted to reassure readers there was very little risk that wealthy Californians would depart for income tax-free Nevada, Washington, and Texas.

Okay, Stanford, you’re so smart, you explain where the money went:

Top income tax payers seem to fall into and out of the millionaire income bracket as their income rises and falls across the million-dollar mark from year to year.

Ohhh!!! So, they haven’t gone anywhere (yet—in fact, I bet they have), they’re just not making money anymore. They just “fall” into and out of the millionaire bracket. It’s gravity, a force of nature. Nothing to do with tax policy.

Hey, this is what California wanted—especially the millionaires in Hollywood and high tech. They voted for Jerry Brown and they voted for Prop 30. And now they’re getting it—good and hard.

If you’re still not laughing, this picture accompanying the story has to get you:

Hey Jerry! Why the long face?


PS: Coming soon to a nation near you. (Not laughing anymore!)


  1. Buck O'Fama said,

    December 12, 2012 @ 7:43 pm

    Yeah, I read about the “study” the Dems commissioned from the Stanford Center on Blah Blah (Stanford incidentally stands to benefit if the Kleptocrats in CA government could suddenly come into a tax windfall to support “education”, not that that matters, of course) and two thoughts came to my mind: (1) People lie to interviewers, especially if they don’t wish to seem like greedy, venal, money-grubbers to the erstwhile lefty grad student asking them about “contributing” more of their ill-gotten gains to the “common good” (2) Things that may not matter when they’re hypothetical suddenly DO matter when they become reality.

    Human nature is a bitch, that’s why communism never worked and never will. “From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs” means humans will tend to minimize their abilities and maximize their needs because few of us want to work like a horse so some loser can sit on his ass and do nothing. This reasoning is obvious to almost anyone except academics and politicians.

  2. mrzee said,

    December 12, 2012 @ 11:38 pm

    Brown still can’t believe Linda Ronstadt left him :-)

  3. Californian said,

    February 27, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

    May Californians become a “millionaire” once, in the year they sell a home they’ve owned for a long time. In 2011, the tax on their gain was 15% Federal plus 9.3% state. But in 2013, the tax is 23.8% Federal plus 13.3% state. State taxes are still deductible on a Federal return, so the net increase is from roughly 23% to 34%. But if you keep the house until you die and your estate is under the new $5 million exclusion, you pay no taxes at all.

    It’s very likely the higher rate means the state will collect much less revenue, and the real estate market will be locked up with older people hanging on to big empty nests.

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